Navy veteran still helping patients

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, July 6, 2017

Many Navy veterans have trouble parlaying their military experience into civilian careers after they leave active duty.

But thanks to a new state program, the first of its kind in the country, at least five veterans are now working in the health care field in Bon Secours Health System.

One of them is Shanail Romane, who joined Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View in March as a patient services representative and medical assistant. In June, the Navy veteran was promoted at the facility to clinical care technician with Bon Secours Internists of Churchland.

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“I didn’t even have to move or go anywhere,” Romane said.

She assists physicians with patient needs in her new position, but with more responsibility and freedom than the position she held from March to June, in line with her considerable professional Navy experience.

“It is an awesome experience to be able to work in the capacity I was trained to do while I was in the military,” Romane said.

The Military Medics and Corpsmen Program has allowed at least five veterans to be hired by Bon Secours Health System as clinical care technicians in the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas, and Romane is the first female veteran on that list.

The MMAC Program was organized by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and approved unanimously by Virginia General Assembly and signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2016.

Army medics, Navy and Coast Guard corpsmen and Air Force medical technicians are given opportunities to transition into civilian health care jobs to remedy shortages of health care staff and increase veteran hires. Bon Secours is one of six Virginia health care systems to participate.

“In 2012, Bon Secours Virginia committed to hiring 450 veterans, and since that time close to 600 veterans have been employed,” Jim Godwin, Bon Secours Virginia Health System vice president of human resources, stated in a May press release about the program.

Veterans have had difficulties transferring their military health care training into civilian careers. Many of these civilian health care positions require certifications, licenses and education that are not compatible with their training, even though their skills and experience are still valuable.

“The health care industry is a major employer in the Commonwealth, making it critical that we attract and retain as many of the more than 11,000 medics and corpsmen that transition out of the military each year as we can,” McAuliffe stated in the press release. “The Military Medics and Corpsmen Program is an innovative initiative that helps these veterans maintain their clinical skills while providing a talent pool for health care providers like Bon Secours Virginia Health System.”

Romane joined the Navy in 1999 as an undesignated airman on the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. She received hospital corpsman training in 2002 in Great Lakes, Ill., before she was assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

She worked in the Pediatric Intensive Care unit, the Adult ICU, General Surgery Clinic, Ambulatory Surgery Center and the dental department. She was deployed to Kuwait with Fleet Hospital 15 at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

She said her first love was taking care of patients: “The love of people, and making sure they’re well,” she said.

From 2003 to 2005, she attended school while on active duty, working during the day and studying at night. She was pregnant with her first child, Nigel, at the time, and her husband, Dwight, was also on active duty in the Navy.

“I don’t think I saw my husband for more than a few weeks at a time for two years,” she said. “It was a struggle.”

When she finished her eight years of duty in 2007, she struggled to find medical positions with her military training. She earned her associate degree in social science at Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake in 2014, then spent time with Nigel and younger son, Nathan, before coming to Bon Secours.

It was during Nurses Week in May that she met Bon Secours officials that were part of the MMAC program. They recommended she apply to her current position, which she did without hesitation, she said.

“Now I’m here with better pay, better hours and more responsibilities,” she said.

She lives in Chesapeake with her husband and Nigel and Nathan, now 10 and 6. She provides health screenings and wellness education through the Health Ministry at Prentis Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, on top of her responsibilities at Bon Secours.